Thursday, September 13, 2007

ICCC and the Tomb of the Unknowm

Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, Sourcewatch, Centcom, Defend America are all online resources (of varying repute) that are committed to accurately documenting the number of American casualties caused by the The first resource listed (ICCC) is by far the most comprehensive, reliable, and easily navigatable of the sites I visited. A visitor to the site is immediately presented with the latest casualty – name, location of death, fort base, birthplace. But the tragic data gathered by ICCC can be limited and searched in myriad ways – death by age, by gender, by location, by cause. Every death is not only accounted for, but categorized – regrouped – and therefore perpetually present. Indeed the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count vigorously facilitates the naming (the namibility) of the lives lost in this But is there a cost to this commendable project? What happens when the casualties of a nation at war resist the violent fade into anonymity – but instead perpetually return, even in death, as a name and as a face. While introducing the concept of Nationalism, Anderson refers to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as the iconic cultural artifact that embodies Nationalisms progenitive power and destructive potential. But my question is this – how can a nation remain committed to the violence perpetrated by it, if activist movements (and the technologies they use) prohibit the (re)-construction of the Tomb of the Unknown?

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